Good News This Week: February 10, 2024 - AI, Laundry, & the Super Bowl

A photo collage of a hand holding two vials, a close-up photo of a quarter featuring Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, screenshots from the digital climate event 'The Virtual March to Retire Big Oil', an aerial view of a farmer tending to his farm, and a flatlay photo of the Goodnewspaper

Every day the Good Good Good team collects the best good news in the world and shares it with our community. Here are the highlights for this week!

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The Best Positive News We’re Celebrating This Week —

The world’s first malaria vaccine just began rolling out

In a historic moment for global health, the world’s first malaria vaccine just started being administered in Cameroon. After successful trials in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, 662,000 doses of the RTS,S vaccine will be given to children in Cameroon.

The rollout is being hailed a “transformative chapter in Africa’s public health history,” and 19 more countries also plan to introduce the vaccine this year, including Burkina Faso, Liberia, Niger, and Sierra Leone.

“For a long time we have been waiting for a day like this … it brings more than just hope, it brings a reduction in the mortality and morbidity associated with malaria,” said Dr. Mohammed Abdulaziz, the division head at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Importantly, public health experts in the region note that communication efforts will be critical to a successful rollout, ensuring that it’s trusted, children receive all four doses, and people know it’s most effective in combination with other preventive measures. They plan to use health workers already trusted by the community.

Why is this good news? Africa accounts for 95% of deaths from malaria, which occur primarily in children under five years old. With the rollout in additional African countries, the hope is to reach 6.6 million children and the WHO says that, based on data from the trial, it will save tens of thousands of lives.

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The U.S. Mint just started circulating the first of five new 2024 quarters featuring American women

In the third of four years of its American Women Quarters Program, the U.S. Mint is introducing five new quarters featuring five impactful women in U.S. history.

The first quarter is now available and features civil rights activist and lawyer Reverend Pauli Murray, who co-founded the National Organization for Women. In 1977, Murray also became the first Black woman ordained as an Episcopal priest.

This year, the Mint will also circulate quarters featuring “Queen of Salsa,” Cuban-American salsa singer Celia Cruz; Civil War-era surgeon Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor; the first woman of color to service in Congress, Hawaii Representative Patsy Takemoto Mink, who was also a co-author of Title IX; and Native American writer and activist Zitkala-Ša.

So far, quarters have been released that feature women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, and Sally Ride. When the program wraps up next year, there will be a total of 20 quarters featuring notable women in U.S. history.

Why is this good news? Historically, U.S. currency has largely and almost exclusively depicted men. Whether it happens on currency or in history books, acknowledging and celebrating the contributions of women in American history is important for awareness and representation. If we’re going to honor people on our national currency — it ought to be a fairer representation!

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In 2023, global renewable energy installations increased by nearly 50% — the fastest in more than two decades

Setting a new record, an estimated 507 gigawatts of renewable electricity were added to power grids around the world in 2023 — a nearly 50% increase over 2022, and the fastest rate of growth for renewables in over two decades.

This rapid expansion led to renewables making up around 30% of total electricity generation, more than ever before and up from 25% in 2018. Currently, hydropower is the largest source of renewable electricity at 14%, followed by wind at 7.8% and solar at 5.4%.

But that could all change this year: the IEA is predicting that wind and solar will overtake hydropower in 2024, and then surpass coal as the largest source of electricity globally by 2025.

China led the way with solar installations — more than the rest of the world combined — followed by the European Union and the United States, where federal incentives have helped make installing solar more accessible.

It’s important to note that while the world is now on track to reach 7,300 gigawatts of total renewable energy capacity by 2028 — that number is still short of the COP28 goal of reaching 11,000 gigawatts by 2030. Still, it’s incredible progress to both celebrate and drive our continued efforts to meet clean energy transition and net-zero goals globally.

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As part of a new AI-driven social media campaign, people are “attending” a digital climate protest with their favorite celebrities

A coalition of 55 organizations and over 50 celebrities and influencers just launched a digital climate protest: The Virtual March to Retire Big Oil. The goal: to demand climate-friendly options for every American’s 401(k).

Using an app and the help of AI, participants can upload a selfie and download a generated image of them marching in protest, together with thousands of others (in a futuristic rendering of Wall Street, too). A watermark on the image reads: “This photo is fake, but the crisis is real.”

The digital protest idea was developed by creative agency Buena, with the intention of making change without making pollution. It also means the protest is accessible to anyone, anywhere — regardless of geography, financial state, or ability.

And notably, when it comes to a climate protest, “it’s especially nice to avoid flights or gas to rally people together.”

Why is this good news? One-fifth of all money invested in oil and gas comes from Americans’ retirement accounts. For many people, not only is this misaligned with their values — it’s also a large financial risk, considering coal, oil, and gas stocks could face a sizable decrease in annual returns in the coming decades. This campaign could lead to real, meaningful change on Wall Street — and for the planet.

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A new study found that switching to sustainable food systems could generate $10 trillion in benefits for people and the planet every year

A new comprehensive study found that a global shift toward a more sustainable food system could create up to $10 trillion in benefits, improve human health, and ease the climate crisis.

The study found that our current food systems destroy more value than they create in the form of hidden medical and environmental costs.

By contributing one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, existing food production systems exacerbate the cycle of higher temperatures leading to more extreme weather, causing greater damage to crops. Additionally, current systems lead (and will continue to lead) to growing food insecurity — which burdens medical systems.

The authors of the study propose a shift away from large-scale monocultures reliant on fertilizers, pesticides, and clearing forests — and instead direct subsidies and incentives toward projects that turn farms into carbon sinks and space for wildlife.

Why is this good news? While nobody is saying this kind of shift would be easy, having (even more!) real data makes the argument for the need to invest in sustainable food systems even stronger.

The study also said that less food insecurity would eradicate undernutrition by 2050, 174 million fewer premature deaths, 400 million farmers would earn sufficient income — and it would help the world limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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Hellmann’s created a new post-Super Bowl holiday to help combat food waste

You may be aware of a big football game happening this weekend, but you may not know that the Super Bowl is one of the largest food waste occasions of the year, with a massive amount of extra food accumulated at official events and the stadium alone.

The food that does get eaten at the game, watch parties, and bars and restaurants results in that food coma feeling that leads an estimated 16.1 million U.S. employees to miss work on the Monday following the big game.

With that combo in mind, Hellmann’s is putting its own spin on this notorious sick day by declaring a new holiday: Sick of Food Waste Day with the goal of helping mitigate food waste.

Hellmann’s took a similar approach last year, and this year’s campaign includes a $100,000 donation to Food Recovery Network as well as team members on the ground in Las Vegas to “rescue surplus food” from major Super Bowl event Player’s Tailgate for donation locally.

Why is this good news? We’ll let FRN’s executive director take this one: “44 million people are unnecessarily facing food insecurity right now, while more than 42 million tons of food goes to waste each year. Fighting food waste can happen at large events like this and in lots of other locations like our schools, our conferences, and our homes.”

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A Texas woman started a laundry program for her unhoused neighbors — and it does so much more than laundry

For nine months each year, the nonprofit Maximizing Hope and volunteers from HPF Hearts for the Homeless offer pop-up laundromat events with the promise of two double loads of laundry and “all the fixin’s” of detergent, bleach, and fabric softeners.

Tonya Coy, the founder of Maximizing Hope, said that most guests come expecting a free laundry day, without realizing a network of volunteers are also there to help them with health care services, housing applications, and more.

Coy founded Maximizing Hope in 2020 after speaking to unhoused locals who were seeking shelter beneath a bridge, trying to survive a sweltering summer day that soared to 107 degrees. As she handed out Gatorades in the shade, Coy felt compelled to keep coming back.

And she has: For the past four years, through building lasting connections in their community and prioritizing real-world solutions, Maximizing Hope has met real, urgent needs, and gotten many of their neighbors off the streets for good.

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More good news of the week —

To honor the first two Black women to cover the White House, the Biden-Harris Administration named a briefing room lectern after them. The recognition of Alice Dunnigan and Ethel L. Payne was announced by Karine Jean-Pierre, the first Black woman to serve as White House press secretary.

Search and rescue workers in Vermont rescued 23 skiers and snowboarders lost in the woods amidst single-digit temperatures. The rescue crews hiked, snowshoed, and used skis with skins to travel about 5 miles to bring them back to safety.

A collaborative effort between local communities and national organizations has led to new, innovative solutions to rescue stranded manatees. Cattle ranching, marsh draining for agriculture, and climate variability have caused water levels to decrease and negatively impact manatee habitats.

Jennifer Garner just visited the Navajo Nation and New Mexico state legislature to advocate for more funding support for Indigenous communities. Through her partnership with Save the Children and food company, Garner has been a longtime advocate for Indigenous communities.

The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum just released new bobbleheads honoring Black baseball players during Black History Month. The collection includes five-decade career legend Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige and James Thomas “Cool Papa” Bell, widely regarded as one of the fastest athletes in baseball history.

A man in New Jersey uses his professional tree-climbing skills to rescue cats stuck in trees for free. Steven Murrow is also an animal lover, and said he’s “always been an advocate for helping others when you can.”

The sustainability-centric online search engine Ecosia just surpassed the milestone of over 200 million trees planted. The company, which plants a tree for every search, has expanded its initiatives to include renewable energy production, regenerative agriculture, and more.

A church in Virginia is turning one of its two locations into 240 units of housing to help meet a need in the community. With a community garden at its other location, Village of Faith Ministries church hopes the new apartments and townhomes will also have a positive impact on local families.

Somalia’s only all-women media team is launching the country’s first show hosted by a woman. The show will debut on International Women’s Day (it’s coming up!), and will address taboo subjects like the shortage of women teachers, challenges faced by women in politics, environmental issues, and more.

Instead of fireworks, Lunar New Year celebrations around the world are opting to feature drone light shows. Blending tradition with modern innovation, drone shows avoid the toxic chemicals and air pollution that come with fireworks displays.

The first of its kind in the world, Dublin is building a new transit center specifically to help make public transportation more accessible to people with disabilities. The 31,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art center provides access to various modes of transport used in Ireland and replicates the real-life built environment that surrounds public transit.

The U.S. Department of Defense is installing rooftop solar panels on the Pentagon, which is one of the world's largest buildings. Part of the Biden-Harris administration’s plan to “reestablish the federal government as a sustainability leader,” the DoD is also installing a heat pump system and solar thermal panels which together will power over 95% of space and hot water heating.

The world's first large “green” steel production project just secured $5 billion in funding. Steelmaking is one of the most carbon-intensive processes on the planet, accounting for around 7-9% of global carbon emissions alone, and the new facility is working to start producing low-carbon steel by 2025.

Researchers just discovered a single gene mutation that can trigger lupus, an autoimmune disease, in children. Lupus causes severe inflammation throughout the body and can have a serious impact on the lives of those affected.

The Oregon zoo just released seven critically endangered California condors back into the wild. The condors were hatched and have been raised at the zoo since 2022 as part of a larger species recovery program, thanks to which there are now around 500 birds flying free (with a 10-foot wingspan!) in the wild.

Article Details

February 10, 2024 5:00 AM
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